‘It is like playing York every week’ - Culverhouse on what Lynn face in National League

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

There’s a touch of Groundhog Day about football at King’s Lynn Town at the moment – as Chris Lakey reports

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Ian Culverhouse turned the clock back six months to illustrate just what life in the National League is going to be like for King’s Lynn Town.

“It is like playing York every week,” was the manager’s way of describing the challenges ahead.

York were beaten at The Walks in front of more than 4,000 fans. The season ended with York two points ahead of Lynn who had two games in hand but, on points per game, finished top, and champions. A simple extrapolation is if York had won in Norfolk, the story might have been very different.

Culverhouse is still looking for two more outfield players to complete his squad: a central defender and a midfielder. But the addition of Jamar Loza suggests a nod to the tinkering in formations and tactics on which this manager thrives.

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

The general philosophy will remain, but with adaptability.

“I think we will handle the ball still, I really do,” he said. “We are going to add a lot of pace to the team. We have a very good player coming to us with Jamar, Browny (Alex Brown) as well will add something different - he is a really hungry player who wants to develop his career – and young Tai (Fleming) coming in as well, looking at the development side as well. We have got hungry players coming into the squad to complement this lot so it is exciting times.”

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One of the most intriguing moves was to bring in young Norwich City goalkeeper Archie Mair, who will provide Alex Street with a rival for the first time in a while. The general assumption is that a league club will have certain demands on a loan player, but Culverhouse says there are no strings attached to the deal for Mair.

“We have got big Archie coming in to add competition with Peds (Street) because Peds has been a single one for many a year here,” said Culverhouse. “We need competition in all areas and they will push each other and that is what we need. We can’t have anyone being complacent.

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Town boss Ian Culverhouse with the manager of the season award Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

“We are really grateful to Norwich City - he is thought of very highly there but there are no guarantees he will play whatsoever. I said I can’t do that, I guarantee no one, but what we will do between the pair of them is whoever is in form will play.

“At the moment we have 17 outfielders so we are on the lookout for a few more. We have got our targets and we are in dialogue with them and hopefully they will come out and then we will be ready to go.

“I think we are still a defender short so we will look to that area there and obviously another midfielder as well.”

The Linnets overcame the odds last year in a division dotted with full-time clubs: the National League simply magnifies that. Culverhouse has asked his players to add a third contact training session a week to their workload to close the gap between part- and full-time, but the odds against Lynn will probably be much the same as they were when Culverhouse was putting his squad through their pre-season paces a year ago. The coronavirus pandemic has changed things: Lynn had their first training session at the weekend, but the demands will increase. Bigger and stronger will be watch words.

“We are going into a professional league, and being a part-time team we are really up against it, but we are really looking forward to the challenge,” added Culverhouse. “It will be a good six weeks, a real hard intensity because we have got to be fit, being a part-time team. But we will be ready for it and give it a good go, the best shot.”

The words have a familiar ring: turn the clock back again and it’s Culverhouse talking a year ago when Lynn had worked their way into the National League North after a play-off super final win over Warrington. The aim was to survive.

“It’s exactly the same - you might as well rewind it. It is going to be tough. It is like playing York every week. It is a professional league, League Three, it is going to be really, really hard. We are behind the curve ball already because we are staying part time. It is something that if we can survive, we can look into, about growing this football club again, but we have to take one step at a time and the main thing is to just stay in this league and grow.

“I know (owner) Stephen (Cleeve) has big plans for this football club but you have to take small steps at times and I think we have surpassed everyone’s expectations.

“Now we have to take stock a little bit.

“We are not going to be frightened of it – no way are we going to be frightened of it – we are going to attack it. We will play our way, we will get beaten along the way, but if everyone stays together we will give this a right good shot.”

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